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United States Military Academy Library


HERstory Exhibit Tour: Home

Virtual Gallery Tour

In celebration of National Women’s History Month and the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, the Library presents a virtual gallery tour featuring twenty-six of the 108 quilts in the traveling exhibit, HERstory Quilts: A Celebration of Strong Women. These mixed-media fiber art pieces celebrate extraordinary women who cracked glass ceilings, made important discoveries, or shook the world by breaking into fields dominated by men.The quilt titled, "Triumph" was created by USMA Reference Librarian Laura Mosher. We hope you enjoy the virtual Gallery Talk by Curator Susanne Miller Jones.

To hear audio recordings of each artist talk about their quilt, go to HERstory Quilts with Text:

  • Call: (703)520‐6404
  • Enter the quilt number followed by the # Key

Introduction

Curator Susanne Miller Jones

Hi, I'm Susanne Miller Jones and I'd like to welcome you to this virtual gallery tour. I am going to tell you about the women honored in this collection as well as the artists who made them and some back stories. I'm really sorry you can't get to the Library to enjoy the twenty-six quilts that are hanging there, but hopefully you will enjoy this part of it, and then you will also be able to listen to audio recordings that are provided by the artists. It will be on your own phone. You will call the phone number [(703)520‐6404], put in the hash-tag and the number of the quilt and hear the artist talk to you. It's a fun way to get a little bit of a back story. So let's get started!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibitions Librarian

Mary Ahenakew's picture
Mary Ahenakew
Contact:
758 Cullum Rd.
Jefferson Hall, Rm. 218
West Point, NY 10996
845-938-1188
Website
Subjects:History

HERstory Quilts with Text

Triumph by Laura Mosher, United States Military Academy Librarian #1498

CAPT Kristen Griest, 1LT Shaye Haver, and MAJ Lisa Jaster became the United States Army’s first three female Rangers in 2015. They are all graduates of West Point, so you can be very proud. The U.S. Army's grueling 62-day Ranger Course, based in Fort Benning, Ga., includes phases in the mountains of northern Georgia and the swamps and streams on the Florida panhandle. It is 61 days long if a student completes each phase on the first try, although these women, like many soldiers, had to repeat several sections of the course. Ranger school focuses on challenging soldiers with lack of sleep and little food as they take on battlefield tasks, including long marches and mock ambushes. Last year, just over 1,600 of a total of over 4,000 soldiers who began the course graduated – a rate of 40%. Approximately 3% of Army soldiers are eligible to wear the Ranger tab. 

It's About Justice by Janice Paine-Dawes #1405

Alice Paul was a suffragist and strategist of the 19th Amendment, which ended sex discrimination in voting. She dedicated her life to equal rights for women. In 1912 Alice joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) which had been formed in 1890 by combining two organizations headed by Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Alice Paul assumed the leadership of the Congressional Committee of NAWSA in Washington, DC. She assembled a mass march of suffragists around the White House, the United States Capitol Building, and the Treasury Building. The day before President Wilson's inauguration, on   March 3, 1913, the march took place.   It is still viewed as one of the biggest protests in American history and brought more attention to the struggle for the vote.  The NAWSA was not pleased with the militant tactics. As a result, Alice started the National Women's Party in 1916. Janice has used the colors of the Women's Suffragists Movement (WSM) to complete her quilt.

Janice has used the colors of the WSM to complete her quilt.

 

Night of Terror by Lesly-Claire Greenberg #1404

Lucy Burns co-founded the National Women’s Party with Alice Paul. Lucy’s articulate speeches, strategy, and leadership contributed greatly toward winning Women’s Suffrage. Lucy was the suffragette that spent the most nights in jail. In November of 1917, Lucy and many others that were picketing in front of Woodrow Wilson's White House were jailed at the Occoquan Workhouse. During the night of November 14, 1917, forty-plus guards with nightsticks attacked the women to "teach them a lesson." Identified as "The Ring Leader," Lucy's attack was extremely brutal. She was stripped bare, and her hands were manacled to the bars above her head where she remained in the cold all night.  This night is known as "The Night of Terror."

Eleanor Roosevelt by Nancy Hershberger #1477

Artist Nancy Hershberger considers Eleanor Roosevelt the greatest First Lady our country has ever had. Nancy decided to portray Eleanor’s self-proclaimed greatest accomplishment, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in Paris in 1948. Nancy also included a fully integrated Southern Conference for Human Welfare which took place in Birmingham, Alabama in 1938. When the city commissioner, Bull Connor, enforced segregation regulations on the second day, Eleanor parked her chair in the middle of the aisle between the white and black sections, refusing to sit on the white side. The Lincoln Memorial is in reference to the concert by Contralto Marian Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 since Eleanor was instrumental in arranging Marian’s performance there.

Sisters and Comrades Through All the Years by Linda Syverson Guild

Sisters, Edith and Grace Abbott, made a difference in the lives of many. Edith was the first female chair of a graduate school in the US, the School of Social Service at the University of Chicago. Grace became the Director of the Children's Bureau, which was the highest-ranking female in the federal government. They worked together to improve the function of their administrations; Edith educated the people that Grace employed at the Children's Bureau and Grace made certain that Edith's programs continued to find funding. Both worked to improve the lives of the disadvantaged in this country. They were a team throughout their lives. 

Rosalynn Carter Explains to the Senate by Luana Rubin #1415

Rosalynn Carter was more than just a First Lady; she was an activist who broke tradition and used her position to speak out for those who had no voice. This image shows her testifying to a Senate committee on behalf of the 1980 Mental Health System Bill. She was only the 2nd First Lady to appear before Congress. Mental Health issues were her highest priority, and she worked to change the nature of government assistance to the mentally ill, to help remove the stigma so those affected could admit to their disability and seek help, without being labeled as "crazy." One year after leaving the White House, Rosalynn Carter co-founded The Carter Center. She is on the center's Board of Trustees and is the chair of the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force.

Fannie Lou Hamer by Carol Vinick #1443

The courageous Fannie Lou Hamer was known as "The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement."  In 1962, when she was 45 years old, she attended a church meeting at which civil rights activists were encouraging African Americans to register to vote.  Hamer, who wanted nothing more than to become a first-class citizen, personally registered many thousands of black voters.  In 1963 she sued Sunflower County for blocking black voter registration.  She helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, established in opposition to her state's all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention.  Malcolm X called Hamer "the country's number one freedom fighting woman."

Agatha Christie - The Queen of Crime by Lynn Randall #1419

Dame Agatha Christie is the world’s best-selling author of all time.  Only the Bible and William Shakespeare have been more widely read. Agatha's most famous play, "The Mousetrap," exceeded 25,000 performances in a London West End theater, becoming the longest-running play.

This piece defines Agatha Christie as the Queen of Crime.  The quilt is a fabric ransom note, including letters that describe Agatha personally and identify her characters.  Many of her accomplishments are included in the text.  Also included are pictures of Agatha throughout her life.  Set on a "poison green" background, one needs to look for the clues in the quilting to see the murder mystery motifs.

A Pearl of Great Value by Rose Legge #1413

Pearl S. Buck wrote brilliantly about China back in the era before Communism, winning both a Pulitzer and a Nobel prize. Born in 1892, Pearl spent nearly all of her first 40 years of life in China.  She witnessed the age-old customs of a culture that today no longer exists.  Her understanding of the varying classes and their values and behavior ran deep and are on permanent record in her many books.  Pearl had a gift for understanding and describing human nature as portrayed individually in her characters, as well as on an epic scale in an entire society undergoing rapid change.  Her wise, moving style of writing was popular on bestseller lists, and "The Good Earth" won the Pulitzer prize in 1932. Pearl also won a Nobel prize for literature in 1938 and was the first American female ever to do so.

She Knows!!! by Susanne Miller Jones #1485

Anne Sullivan was born with an eye disease, was sent to Perkins Institute for the Blind and given several surgeries to try to improve her sight. Since Annie had impressed the school's director, Michael Anagnos, she came to mind when Colonel Keller wrote to the school asking for someone to work with their daughter, Helen, who was deaf and blind due to a high fever at 19 months. Anne traveled to Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama. There she found an unkempt, unruly child who did as she wished and was in desperate need of teaching. Annie insisted that she and Helen be allowed to live in the pump house without any interference from Helen's parents. Helen was forced to depend totally on Anne, Teacher. It was at the water pump at Ivy Green that the world opened for Helen through Annie's fingerspelling "water" into Helen’s hand, using the manual alphabet. Suddenly Helen knew that things had names and she needed to know the names of everything. Following this awakening, Anne taught Helen to write, read Braille and to speak. They were Teacher and Helen, friends and companions for life.

Through the Lens by Jeanne Knudsen #1458

Dorothea Lange has been called America's greatest documentary photographer.  She was contracted by the U.S. Government to document the depression and the internment of Japanese Americans. She did such a beautiful job that that same government impounded her photographs. They showed the true soul of these people; the pain, worry, and confusion of the Japanese and Japanese Americans.  Through those photographs, she brought forth a part of our U.S. History that otherwise might have been forgotten and when forgotten, it may have been repeated.

Mary Colter: Builder on the Desert by Karen G. Fisher #1423

Mary Colter’s designs changed American architecture by honoring indigenous and historical Hispanic architecture, and, especially at the Grand Canyon, building with on-site materials,

inspiring a whole new style of architecture, "park-itecture" or National Parks Rustic. The piece highlights her work by showcasing four buildings that show the breadth of her work in the southwest: the Watchtower and Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon, La Posada Hotel in Winslow, and La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, where she designed the interiors. Her face is near the top, ghostlike among the clouds of a bright southwestern sky.

Mary Leakey, Paleoanthropologist by Betty Hahn #1459

Mary Leakey discovered a skull that became known as Zinjanthropus, whom they called Zinj or Nut Cracker Man because of his huge jaws and molars. He was believed to be 1.75 million years old. She worked in Kenya with her husband Louis Leakey for much of her career. Despite her primary interest in art and artifacts, she had an amazing talent for discovering fossils. In 1974 she began excavations at Laetoli, which produced australopithecine skeletal remains. Two years later, she discovered the first set of bipedal footprints, dating from 3.8 million years. These were the earliest definite hominid sample known at the time. When she left the site, she buried the footprints under sand and boulders. Trees grew and now obscure the site.

Liberte de l'air by Ricki Selva #1422

When no one in the United States would teach a woman of color to fly, Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman learned to speak French, moved to Le Crotoy, France, and earned her International Pilot's License. She returned to the United States as "Queen Bess," the barnstorming stunt pilot.  When she could not fly, she gave lectures and inspired thousands. On April 30, 1926, while riding as an observer to survey a site for the next day's performance, Bessie was killed in a tragic aircraft accident. Although her dream of opening a flight school, free of racism, was never realized, she inspired thousands of people, especially women and people of color, to pursue a career in aviation.

Taking Flight: My Great Aunts by Debra Goley #1500

Betty Heinrich Berkstresser (May 12, 1919–2019) and Barbara Willis Heinrich (May 30, 1916–) were Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. Under the leadership of Jacqueline Cochran (also represented in HERstory by Ricki Selva), their mission was to ferry aircraft from factories to airbases across the country, relieving men for combat. To qualify for the WASP, you had to participate in basic training, learn flight navigation skills, fly military aircraft, and have 150 hours of flying time. In 1942, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt declared, "This is not a time when women should be patient.  We are in a war, and we need to fight it with all our ability and every weapon possible.  Women pilots, in this particular case, are a weapon waiting to be used."  In 2010, the artist’s aunts received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest possible civilian award given by Congress.

Rosie the Riveter by Linda MacDonald #1478

Rosie the Riveter is the embodiment of many women during World War II. Rosie is a celebration of women and their ability to adapt to and conquer any situation that comes along. “Rosie” is the name given to women whose work helped to win World War II. These women filled the many factory jobs left vacant when the men went to fight the war. They accomplished this additional workload and still provided for their children and home.

The famous "We Can Do It!" poster, produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943, was meant to inspire women to work outside the home. In addition to working in factories, women of this period were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens and to preserve and can their produce as a means to provide for their families during a time of growing food shortages.

The Bletchley Girls by Alison Laurence #1496

Sworn to secrecy, the Bletchley Girls helped change the course of history by cracking secret Nazi codes, thereby shortening WWII by at least two years. Bletchley Park, a mansion just 70 kilometers from London, was Britain's most secret establishment and was the home of the Government Code and Cypher School. It housed a secret team of individuals whose mission was to crack the Nazi codes and ciphers, the most well-known being Enigma. These complex ciphers were used in communications between Hitler in Berlin and his commanders in the field.

Under the strictest code of secrecy, the women of Bletchley Park were enlisted to assist with the project to break, in particular, the German codes in World War II.  

The ENIAC Programmers by Jayne Gaskins #1497

Six brilliant women programmed ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the world’s first electronic computer. In 1942, most men were fighting in WWII, so they had to recruit female mathematicians to do the programming and, having no precedent and only schematics to work with, six women did just that. These six colored sheets of binary code honor each of the brilliant female mathematicians who developed the programming language and operating system that made it work. No other writing appears because, until the mid-80s, they, like their work, remained unknown and unrecognized. The ENIAC Programmers were:  Francis "Betty" Snyder Holberton, Betty "Jean" Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, and Frances Bilas Spence.

Virginia Hall by Charlie Hietala #1442

Virginia Hall was the 007 of WWII with a wooden leg named Cuthbert. She was the Gestapo’s most wanted female spy. Virginia, an amputee, successfully fooled the Nazis to save lives, independently built an intelligence network and obtained and transmitted intelligence behind enemy lines. After years in occupied France, the risk of discovery as the woman the Gestapo named "The Limpy Lady" became too great, so she escaped in a group with a scout traversing 30 miles over the Pyrenees Mountains on foot. 

Stephanie Kwolek by Mary Times #1454

Stephanie Kwolek did not save a few lives as a doctor; she saved countless lives as a chemist.

Stephanie Kwolek dreamed of becoming a doctor, but unable to afford medical school, she took a job with Dupont doing research. Tasked with creating a high-performance fiber to replace steel in racing tires, Kwolek formed a fluid, cloudy solution of liquid crystals and proceeded to test its properties. The liquid was spun and showed the characteristics of a very stiff, strong fiber, which came to be called Kevlar®.  This light-weight, heat-resistant fiber, which is five times stronger than steel, has since been used in a wide range of products including tires, helmets, flame-resistant fabrics and ropes, fiber-optic cables and aircraft and armored-vehicle panels.  It is, most notably, the main component of bullet-proof vests, which have become invaluable to legions of soldiers and law-enforcement officers.

Do You See What I See? by Marijke van Welzen #1435

Rosalind Franklin, an English chemist and x-ray crystallographer, made incredible advances in x-ray diffraction techniques with DNA. She adjusted her equipment to produce an extremely fine beam of x-rays. She extracted finer DNA fibers than ever before and arranged them in parallel bundles. Moreover, she studied the fibers' reactions to humid conditions. All of these allowed her to discover crucial keys to DNA's structure. One of her x-ray diffraction pictures of the "B" form of DNA, known as Photograph 51, became famous as critical evidence in identifying the structure of DNA. The photo took 100 hours of x-ray exposure from a machine Rosalind herself had refined.

HeLa Cells by Joyce Carrier #1455

In the early 1950's African American housewife Henrietta Lacks went to John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore to have treatments for cervical cancer and unknowingly provided her cancer cells to the medical field. They were found to continuously and aggressively divide and reproduce, becoming known as an immortal line of cells called HeLa. Henrietta, a mother of five and a poor tobacco farmer, died at the age of 31, immortal cells have been an important biomedical tool in finding treatments and cures for many illnesses such as AIDs, polio, cancer treatments, along with advancements in gene mapping and in vitro fertilization. 20 years after her death, Henrietta’s family, poor and lacking health care of their own, discovered that their mothers' cells are still alive and utilized in research all over the world.

INTEGRITY: Frances Oldham Kelsey, Ph.D., M.D. by Bobbe Nolan #1452

Frances Oldham Kelsey’s first assignment at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration eventually prevented the sale of Thalidomide in the United States due to her insistence on further testing before recommending approval. As Kelsey was insisting on further testing, physicians in Germany and Australia documented a link between a growing cluster of babies born with unusual, severe congenital disabilities and the use of Thalidomide by their mothers during pregnancy.  Thousands of children in Europe were born with defects in arms, hands, legs, and feet; some were born blind or without ears.  Many died in infancy. Once the connection was made in 1961, Kelsey became a hero; the tragedy led directly to the passage of the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments of 1962, providing strong regulation for the introduction of new drugs and the advertising of drugs in the United States.

Malala by Gabriele DiTota #1494

Malala Yousafzai, born in 1997 in northwest Pakistan, is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai,  who is a poet and educational activist and runs a chain of private schools, was largely responsible for her education. In 2008, Malala, who was fluent in Pashtu, Urdu, and English, started to blog for the BBC Urdu, anonymously, about living under Taliban rule. As she became more recognized threats against her increased until the Taliban, in 2012, agreed to kill her. In October, a gunman shot her in the face. The Pakistani government paid for her transport to the UK for treatment. The assassination attempt led to worldwide outrage, media coverage and an outpouring of sympathy. It also led to the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan, Malala Day at the UN on her 16th birthday calling for worldwide access to education, and in 2014 to Malala being co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jody by Gabriele DiTota #1491

Jody Williams, a Nobel Laureate and American political activist, worked tirelessly to outlaw landmines; defend human rights, especially those of women, and to promote peace.

In 1997 Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize along with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) for her work to ban and clear landmines, starting in 1992 with the development of the ICBL. The organization grew from a staff of one into an international organization of 1300 non-governmental organizations in ninety countries. The result of Williams’ efforts was the adoption, at the Oslo Diplomatic Conference in 1997, of a treaty prohibiting the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines.

Watching The Sky At Night by Alicia Merrett #1407

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a UK space scientist, satellite engineer, television presenter, and inspirational communicator, encouraging children and adults to become scientists, engineers, astronomers, and astronauts. Maggie is one of two presenters on the long-running, popular BBC program The Sky at Night. She has made and presented the fascinating, oft-repeated program Do We Really Need the Moon? She has been instrumental in many televised events and programs about science and cosmology, including Dr. Who Confidential and How Satellites Rule Our World.

Among Maggie Aderin-Pocock's many accolades are the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to science and education; being named as one of six UK "Women of Outstanding Achievement" in 2006, and being listed in 2013 as one of the UK's top 10 most influential black people. Possibly her main accomplishment is to have broken stereotypes about careers, gender, class, and color, and being able to communicate to others that they are only myths.

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